In endoscopic sinus surgery, an
endoscope is inserted into the nose, providing the
doctor with an inside view of the sinuses.
are inserted alongside the endoscope. This allows the doctor to remove small
amounts of bone or other material blocking the sinus openings and remove
growths (polyps) of the
mucous membrane. In some cases a laser is used to burn
away tissue blocking the sinus opening. A small rotating burr that scrapes away
tissue may also be used.
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The surgery may be done in a hospital
or in a doctor's office or clinic. Either
local or general anesthesia may be used. The procedure
takes 30 to 90 minutes.
What To Expect After Surgery
Minor discomfort and bleeding are
common during the first 2 weeks after surgery. Weekly visits to the surgeon may
be necessary for about 3 weeks after the surgery to have dried blood and
Recovery also may
Packing the nose with gauze to absorb bloody
Using a nasal spray
containing a steroid for 6 months or longer to reduce
saltwater washes (saline nasal lavage or irrigation)
to keep the nasal passages moist.
Avoiding activities such as
blowing the nose, exercising strenuously, and bending forward for a few
Using a humidifier to keep room air moist, especially in the
Why It Is Done
Endoscopic surgery may be needed when
medicine has failed to improve or cure chronic
sinusitis. It is the preferred method of surgery for
most cases of chronic sinusitis that require surgery.
How Well It Works
Endoscopic surgery improves symptoms
in about 90 out of 100 people.1
does not always completely eliminate sinusitis. Some people may need a second
Surgery is most successful when used along with
medicine and home treatment to prevent future sinus infections. A second
surgery and future sinus infections may be avoided if antibiotics are taken to
As with any surgery, there are always some risks
involved. But endoscopic sinus surgery is very safe when performed by an
experienced surgeon who has special training with endoscopic surgical
Minor complications (such as scar tissue attaching to
nearby tissue, or bruising and swelling around the eyes) occur in a small
number of people who have the surgery. Major complications (such as heavy
bleeding, eye area injury, or brain injury) occur in fewer than 1 out of 100 cases.2 Most complications of endoscopic sinus surgery
can be managed or prevented.
What To Think About
surgery does not cause as much visible scarring as traditional sinus surgery.
Also, it may not cost as much as traditional surgery, because there is a shorter
hospital stay, if any, and a shorter recovery.
Suh JD, Chiu AG (2012). Acute and chronic sinusitis. In AK Lalwani, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, 3rd ed., pp. 291–301. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (2005). The diagnosis and management of sinusitis: A practice parameter update. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 116(6 Suppl): S13–S47.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology
Current as of
September 12, 2012
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 12, 2012
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